The following Employment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Victimisation
  • Mistreatment for asserting rights
  • Associative victimisation
  • Step 1: was there a protected act (or a belief that one had occurred or might occur)?
  • When an allegation will be a protected act
  • Step 2: has the victim been subjected to a detriment?
  • What amounts to a detriment
  • Step 3: was the victim subjected to a detriment because of the protected act?
  • Victimisation regarding discussions about pay
  • Defences and exceptions
  • More...


This Practice Note considers the law relating to unlawful victimisation under the Equality Act 2010 (EqA 2010).

Domestic laws that have been made to implement UK obligations under EU law (such as the obligation to implement a Directive) are retained EU law. For further information, see Practice Note: Brexit and IP completion day—implications for employment lawyers—Retained EU law.

Mistreatment for asserting rights

Individuals who speak up to assert their rights under the EqA 2010 run the potential risk that they will be treated badly in retaliation. Not protecting working individuals who assert those rights would potentially entirely undermine the protection they enjoy against discrimination.

For example:

  1. a woman suggests to her (male) manager that he did not promote her because of her gender

  2. the manager responds by dismissing her

  3. he says that he did so not because of her gender, but rather because she had the impertinence to suggest that he had discriminated against her

The manager’s act is not direct discrimination. It is not indirect discrimination. It is, however, unlawful victimisation.

EqA 2010, s 27 states that a person victimises an individual if:

  1. the person subjects that individual to a detriment

  2. the person does so because:

    1. that individual performed a 'protected act', or

    2. the person believes that that individual performed a protected act, or

    3. the person believes that that individual may (at some point in time subsequent to the

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